Photo: Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to creating sustainable development. Credit: UNIC Tunis. - Photo: 2019

UN Keen To Progress Towards 17 Global Development Goals

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK (IDN) – A series of events, including two High-level Political Forums (HLPFs) and the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit on the margins of the 74th General Assembly underline the vital importance of 2019 that marks the fourth year of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on September 25, 2015.

The first HLPF in July will be held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), completing its first cycle, and the other in September at the summit level during the General Assembly.

“We must seize the momentum to implement the 2030 Agenda and use this opportune year to assess progress and to strengthen our political will to act to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in all regions,” says the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) that will be fully engaged in the preparation of the two HLPFs.

According to UN DESA – a vital interface between global policies in the economic, social and environmental spheres and national action – many countries are aligning their national policies and institutions behind the SDGs to improve people’s lives.

Businesses are taking action to invest in new technologies, opening up new markets, and building the sustainable and inclusive economy of the 21st century. Civil society organizations and other stakeholders are also using these Goals to drive change at the local, subnational and national levels and holding their Governments accountable.

“Even though progress is being made, gaps are evident,” says UN DESA. “The world remains on a trajectory of increasing inequality, and it is facing armed conflicts, humanitarian and environmental crises, as well as economic, financial and climate challenges.”

Moreover, the scale and pace of change in public and private investment in sustainable development remain alarmingly insufficient. Therefore, UN DESA is calling for a surge in financing, investments and technological innovation.

The Department will launch this year the latest issue of the Global Sustainable Development Report, an analysis by an independent group of scientists undertaken every four years to assess where we stand.

Furthermore, over the next months, the Department will release several other analytical reports to assess progress made towards the SDGs to provide context to this year’s high-level discussions.

UN DESA and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will organise the first global conference on synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. The conference will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, in March 2019.

“We expect that this global conference will deliver (…) a set of concrete recommendations for strengthening the interlinkages between climate action and the SDGs,” said UN DESA’s head Liu Zhenmin during the 24th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) from December 2 to 14 in Katowice, Poland. “This conference will be aimed at promoting action,” he added

“Climate change and the SDGs are really one integral agenda,” said Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary. “In working together, UN DESA and we at UN Climate Change are setting an example of the way the different entities can join forces.”


Four months after the Copenhagen conference, the HLPF to be convened under the auspices of ECOSOC from July 9 to 18, 2019 will address the theme Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.

Fifty-one countries, both developed and developing, will present their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) – sharing their national experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learnt, in implementing the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.

At the same time, the July HLPF will review progress in the thematic areas of quality education (SDG 4), decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), reduced inequalities (SDG 10), climate action (SDG 13), peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16), and partnerships for the Goals (SDG 17).

UN DESA is coordinating a series of Expert Group Meetings on each goal to prepare and inform the thematic discussions at HLPF.

SDG Summit in September

The HLPF under the auspices of the General Assembly will take place at the summit level on September 24 and 25, 2019. Heads of State and Governments, joined by leaders from civil society organizations, foundations, the business sector and other stakeholders, will focus on the overall implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Areas of progress towards the SDGs will be identified. Actions for scaling up will be considered. A political declaration of Heads of State and Government is expected to give guidance on how to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.

The SDG Summit will complement the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, to be held the day before – on the margins of the 74th General Assembly.

UN DESA has launched a call to receive good practices and success stories in SDG implementation by all stakeholders through its SDG Good Practices portal. The main findings of this evidence-based stocktaking will be highlighted and showcase in the lead-up to, and during the Summit.

A series of side events and special events will also be organized to complement the July HLPF and the SDG Summit, aiming to engage and mobilize partners around the SDGs.

The special events will include the SDG Business Forum, Partnership Exchange, SDG Film Festival, Chief Sustainability Officers event, Major Groups and Other Stakeholders meeting, an event with universities and higher education institutions, and Local and Regional Governments Forum, which will convene mayors from the world’s major cities to focus on ways to localize the 2030 Agenda.

Other events

In 2019, four years after the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) from July 13-15, 2015, there will be an opportunity to review progress on its commitments and the current state of play on the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

“The ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum and SDG Investment Fair in April 2019 will be critical junctures for building momentum in response to emerging risks to the economic outlook and potential opportunities,” says UN DESA Voice, the January newsletter. These will feed into the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development in September 2019.

In September 2019, the UN General Assembly will also hold a one-day high level review of the progress made in addressing the priorities of small island developing States (SIDS) through the implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway. The high-level review is expected to result in a concise, action-oriented and inter-governmentally agreed political declaration.

As the United Nations Secretariat entity responsible for economic, social and environmental issues, UN DESA leads the work from the Secretariat side, preparing for and ensuring the success of the 2019 HLPF in July, the SDG Summit, the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development (FFD), and the SAMOA Pathway high-level meeting to review progress in September at the beginning of the 74th session of the General Assembly, as well as all other related side and special events. [IDN-InDepthNews – 04 January 2019]

Photo: Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to creating sustainable development. Credit: UNIC Tunis.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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